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Can Cinnamon Help Lower Blood Glucose and Cholesterol?

By November 17, 2006

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There has been a lot of talk these days about cinnamon. According to some studies, cinnamon may improve blood glucose and cholesterol levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. The results of a study from 2003 in Pakistan showed lower levels of fasting glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol after 40 days with levels continuing to drop for 20 days after that.

The study was made up of 60 people with Type 2 diabetes who were divided into 6 groups of 10. Three groups received cinnamon in the form of capsules totaling 1, 3 or 6 grams of cinnamon a day. The other three groups received placebo capsules. The capsules were taken three times a day, after meals. All three levels of cinnamon showed results, leading researchers to believe that as little as 1 gram a day of cinnamon may benefit people who have Type 2.

There has been some debate in this country on whether "true" cinnamon was used for the study. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are two types of cinnamon sold in the United States; cinnamomum zeylanicum nees or cinnamomum cassia (L.) blume. Most of the cinnamon sold in our grocery stores is cinnamomum cassia. The Pakistani study does list cinnamomum cassia as the cinnamon that was used.

Richard A. Anderson, Ph.D., CNS, of the the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), is one of the original researchers in the Pakistan study. The BHNRC is under the United States Department of Agricuture (USDA). From results of his continued study of the components of cinnamon and their effect on blood glucose and cholesterol, he states,

    "We have also shown that the active components of cinnamon are found in the water-soluble portion of cinnamon and are not present in cinnamon oil, which is largely fat-soluble. In addition to ground cinnamon consumed directly, one can also make a cinnamon tea and let the solids settle to the bottom or use cinnamon sticks, which make for a nice clear tea. Cinnamon can also be added to orange juice, oatmeal, coffee before brewing, salads, meats etc. The active components are not destroyed by heat."

Based on these studies, it seems that cinnamon may lower blood glucose, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in people with Type 2 diabetes. The fact that studies so far have involved a small amount of people and have not yet explored the long term benefits of cinnamon, would lead to the conclusion that there may not be enough evidence gathered yet, to support cinnamon as a major player against Type 2. But adding more cinnamon to already healthy lifestyle changes probably wouldn't hurt either.

Sources:

Khan, MS, PHD, Alam, Safdar, MS, Mahpara, Ali Khan, MS, PHD, Mohammad Muzaffar, Khattak, MS, Khan Nawaz, and Anderson, PHD, Richard A.. "Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes." Diabetes Care 26(2003): 3215-3218.

Anderson, Ph.D., CNS, Richard A.. "Cinnamon, Glucose Tolerance and Diabetes." Agricultural Research Service. 08 Aug 2005. United States Department of Agriculture. 17 Nov 2006.

Photo by Spencer Ritenour

Comments
November 18, 2006 at 11:50 pm
(1) Roger Wakefield says:

I tried taking cinnamon tablets for 30 days. I noticed no improvement at all.

I know it wasn’t exactly a scientific study, but still worth sharing I thought.

November 19, 2006 at 7:14 pm
(2) Deb M says:

Hi Roger,

It was a very small study involving 60 people. It showed promise but it would have to be tested further to prove a definite benefit for everyone. The ADA mentioned the study on their website and also in a few of their publications.

Are cinnamon tablets a supplement? Sometimes those aren’t always what they say they are. There aren’t any regulations governing the supplement business, so there might not be as much cinnamon in them as it says on the label.

Cinnamon or any other supplement should never be taken instead of prescription meds for diabetes though.

Thanks for commenting.

Deb Manzella

November 23, 2006 at 5:57 pm
(3) Rose Standart says:

I have been taking 2 cinnamon capsules daily for 2 years and use cinnamon sticks in tea. Although I have not noticed a lowering of blood glucose, I have seen a significant improvement in total cholestral, triglercides and LDL numbers.

November 23, 2006 at 9:30 pm
(4) Yusuf Husain says:

I came to know thru someone that Cinnomn powder help in treatment of Arthritis desease too. Pls.let me know the fact.
Thanks
Yusuf Husain

November 24, 2006 at 6:54 pm
(5) coastwatcher says:

I have been making my own cinnamon capsules for months now. My experience is about a 25 point blood glucose drop after I take the capsules. It is cheap and easy to do, and even if studies show it doesn’t work, the placebo effect is working for me. I have to watch and make sure i don’t drop to low. Regardless, I have also lost around 80 pounds. So I think it is no harm to try the cinnamon as long as you are also doing all the other things you need to do to control your sugars. Nothing will lower sugars if you are eating trash.

December 7, 2006 at 4:47 pm
(6) Deb Frith says:

Does anyone know where you can buy the cinnamon tablets in Ontario? Please advise. Thank you

December 8, 2006 at 12:58 am
(7) Vincent Hoagland says:

I haven’t ever purchased the cinnamon capsules but I do use cinnamon in or on foods. Is there a volume measurement (1/4 teaspoon, etc.) that can be applied to powdered cinnamon to relate to 1, 3, or 6 grams of it?

December 8, 2006 at 4:47 pm
(8) debM says:

The USDA study concluded that 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day led to improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides.

As far as cinnamon tablets, in Ontario, I’m not sure if health food stores might carry them, but just using cinnamon from the grocery store on food or in tea or coffee might be worth a try.

As you can see from our responses, people have had varying degrees of success with cinnamon usage.

Deb M
Diabetes.guide@about.com

May 11, 2007 at 2:38 pm
(9) Tom Servo says:

Over a the last few months I’ve mixed one teaspoon of cinnamon powder into my morning cereal every day and I’ve noticed a marked decrease in my considerable sugar cravings. It has made weight loss easier for me.

April 15, 2008 at 12:52 pm
(10) AmyP says:

I purchased cinnamon supplements in 1000mg capsules. The label indicates they are pure cinnamon. I take 2 capsules after every meal.

I am Type 2 and in about 10 days, my morning blood glucose readings are down from an average of 120 or so to 101 this morning. My post-meal numbers have improved and also my fasting numbers. I don’t know if it’s the placebo effect either, but my body doesn’t care. Lower blood sugar readings are a good thing.

I also take 1500 mg of Metformin per day, diet and exercise. I saw a significant decrease in my glucose readings after just a couple of days on cinnamon. I’m a believer! I know it won’t hurt me, so I’m going to keep on taking it!

July 28, 2008 at 7:34 pm
(11) Joy says:

I’m type 2 been about 2 years- I ran out of Meds didnt take anything-Went to the Doctor was up to 378 blood count they wanted to put me on the “Dreaded Shots” and I dont mean Tequila, All be 50 in 2 days, I jumped into my pills and gave this Cinnamon thing a try.
2 weeks later, I’m running at a steady 115-120 which prior to running out of my exact same meds I was running at 150-175.
So called it what you will I take the capsuls – 2 500′s at lunch and i’m good.

Happy Happy Joy Joy….

August 7, 2008 at 11:47 am
(12) Matt says:

I have been taking cinnamon for a month now and I cannot believe the change. I was very skeptical and only started taking it at my wife’s insistance.
To my surprise I do not have sugar cravings at all and do not feel the need to eat often. So far I have lost 15 lbls and there seems to be no other explaination to the weight loss and aversion to eating.
I used to eat constantly and the more carbs I ate the more I wanted to eat.

August 21, 2008 at 8:42 am
(13) Brenda Lee says:

Hi, I’ve been on 500mg of cinnamon for 2 weeks now and I’ve had a tremendous drop in my blood sugar, my fasting sugar went from 175 to 210 to 108 to 120 and that is with me not eating the way I really should be eating. So, it really works for me and I thank anyone with type 2 diabetes should give the cinnamon a try and if you don’t see a difference as fast as others you should not give up on it. I am well pleased with my results.

August 27, 2008 at 9:29 am
(14) Ron says:

After taking three meds daily for two years. my morning fasting glucose reading was 130 – 140. I started putting cinnamon on my morning toast (low carb) and my readings went 10 85-95. If I travel, after a few days without cinnamon, my numbers are back at 130 -140. Two days back on cinnamon and the number drops back to 85-95. I’ve gone through this cycles several times. Cinnamon works for me.

Ron

September 9, 2008 at 12:45 pm
(15) Shirley says:

I’ve read your testimonies concerning the cinamon and I think i’ll give it a try. I don’t foresee any problem. Thanks for the info.

September 15, 2008 at 3:48 pm
(16) Barb J.L. says:

Two yrs ago when I was told that I,m a type 2 my H1C was 6.95% with diet it went down to 6.6% after taking cinnamon for 2 months it is now 5.9% Next month my blood test should show an improvement again. GO CINNAMON

November 28, 2008 at 1:36 am
(17) Lina Nardo says:

Where can I buy the cinnamon making capsual machine here in sydney australia? Thank you for your help, I much prefer to go natural than take unnecessary drugs

November 28, 2008 at 8:48 am
(18) Deb Manzella RN says:

Hi Lina,

If you are already taking medications for diabetes, please check with your doctor before going off of them.

As for the capsule making machine, perhaps a health food store might carry them.

Have a good day,

Deb

November 29, 2008 at 11:42 am
(19) Nancy says:

My husband is Type 2 and uses Metformin for his diabetes; he also takes 2 cinnamon supplements a day (1 a.m. and 1 p.m.) 500 mg each. His sugar is usually around 120 or so. I started taking it because my triglycerides were HIGH (300 plus) and my cholesterol was always 280 or so. I’ve been taking 2 a day for about 8 months, and I just had my levels checked. My cholesterol was 198 and my triglycerides dropped to 158! My ratio is 3.2, my doctor and I were both thrilled! In my case, it’s ONLY the cinnamon..oh we each take 2 flaxseed oil tablets a day (1 a.m. and 1 in the p.m.)We swear by cinnamon and flaxseed. My doctor told me with exercise and a better diet I’ll be even healthier! I say to everyone try cinnamon it can’t hurt you, I don’t think it can anyway.

December 5, 2008 at 7:45 pm
(20) John says:

Cinnamon was helping me keep my BS down, but I developed an allergic reaction. My allergist tells me that cinnamon is a very common allergen, so it will be important to look for this.

January 5, 2009 at 12:13 am
(21) Bob Shreve says:

Deb,
Thank you for your article and particularly for the link to Dr. Anderson’s research. There is a further link to the 2004 Agricultural Research Magazine, where I found this quote “Table cinnamon is made from cinnamon bark and contains both water-soluble and fat-soluble compounds. Fat-soluble compounds may accumulate in the body if ingested over a long period.” Please let me know if I should be looking for water soluble cinnamon.

January 5, 2009 at 3:11 pm
(22) Deb Manzella RN says:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your question. Here’s a quote from Dr. Anderson, “”We have also shown that the active components of cinnamon are found in the water-soluble portion of cinnamon and are not present in cinnamon oil, which is largely fat-soluble.”

It sounds like there is more of the fat-soluble component in the oil and not the powder. But you raise an interesting point.

But as always, with all supplements, more is not necessarily better. Sticking to the recommended dose is probably a wise move.

Dr. Anderson did studies on 1, 3, and 6 grams of cinnamon a day. It was shown that the lowest dose, 1 gram a day, was enough to give good results. 1 gram equals approximately 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.

1/4 tsp of cinnamon sprinkled on cereal, toast or in tea, is a pretty small amount. There might be more concern if you are taking capsules of cinnamon several times a day.

But it’s always good to be cautious.

The USDA has published an article which states that “Our recent human studies indicate that consuming roughly one half of a teaspoon of cinnamon per day or less leads to dramatic improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. Intake of cinnamon, at these levels, is very safe and there should not be any side effects.”

The article also states that there are companies out there selling the water-soluble components of cinnamon, if you are interested in that. You could probably ask your local health food store personnel for companies that sell it.

Deb

January 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm
(23) Jim says:

For about 5 years my glucose readings have hovered near the top or slightly above the lab’s normal range, at about 101 to 129. My trigycerides were about 180, with medication. I started taking 3000mgs (3 grams) of cinnamon a day, and went in for a lab test after 6 months on my cinnamon regimen. My lastest glucose reading was 97, not a big drop, but my triglycerides were down to 88! The lowest they have ever been. (Years ago before taking statins, they were at 485.) I underestand that triglycerides and glucose are somehow related…I intend to continue with this easy to take supplement.
Jm

January 14, 2009 at 3:58 pm
(24) Grinda says:

Cinnulin PF is a purified water-soluble product that is available on-line for several different companies. I’ve been using it for almost a year and have had very favorable results as has my husband who is pre-diabetic. His fasting glucose is much lower and his triglycerides are, too. If you are using store bought cinnamon, put it in your coffee grounds and let it filter with your coffee.

January 15, 2009 at 8:58 pm
(25) Rhonda Rosser says:

According to more recent studies cinnamon has no effect on blood sugar or fat. I know it has done nothing for mine.

Cinnamon does not control blood sugar or fat levels

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Cinnamon does not appear to have any impact on blood sugar or cholesterol levels in people with diabetes, Connecticut-based researchers report in the journal Diabetes Care.

“The preponderance of evidence currently available does not suggest that cinnamon has the ability to decrease a person’s risk of heart disease by helping them control their diabetes or lower their cholesterol,” Dr. Craig I. Coleman, of Hartford Hospital, who was the principal investigator, told Reuters Health.

Several studies have looked at the impact of cinnamon on blood sugar and lipids (fats) in patients with diabetes but had only modest sample sizes and yielded mixed results, Coleman and colleagues note in their report.

This led them to perform a large review, or “meta-analysis,” of five studies in which a total of 282 type 1 or type 2 diabetic patients were randomly assigned to receive cinnamon or a placebo and were followed for up to 16 weeks.

All five studies used cinnamon cassia, “the same cinnamon most people have in their spice racks at home,” Coleman noted. Doses ranged from 1 to 6 grams daily.

As mentioned, the use of cinnamon did not significantly alter hemoglobin A1C — a marker of blood sugar control. It also had no effect on fasting blood sugar levels or lipid parameters. Analyses by subgroup and sensitivity did not appreciably alter these results.

Coleman told Reuters Health that the inspiration for conducting this specific analysis came from one of his research fellows, Dr. William Baker. “He works in a chain pharmacy as a pharmacist, now and then, and he was asked by a patient whether cinnamon was useful in treating diabetes.”

“As pharmacists, we want to be able to provide patients … with the best information about these over-the-counter treatments, which are often readily available but under researched,” Coleman said. Based on the current study, “we would not recommend its use to patients,” he said.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, January 2008.

March 4, 2009 at 2:07 pm
(26) Fran says:

I just recently received my blood test results. My blood sugar was 136 – for the first time ever. My doctor wants me to have another blood test in the next two weeks. He said if it is in that range again, I am diabetic. My triglycerides were 284. I am a 5’5″ female and weigh 244. I have been taking thyroid medication for 17 years. My recent thyroid stimulating hormone test was 7.1429. A previous doctor refused to give me a higher dose because she said it would cause osteoporosis. I was on thyroid medication at the time of the blood test and the test revealed that I am undermedicated, so my new internal medicine doctor just increased that 1/4 grain to 1.25. On my own I started taking 500 mg.cinnamon cassia capsules. I take 4 after each meal. I have also been on the Atkins diet for one week – no carbs and no sweets. I Will post the results of my next blood test after taking cinnamon capsules for two weeks and not consuming any sweets or carbs for three weeks. It should be an interesting test result.

March 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm
(27) jane donut says:

I am pre-diabetic and have been taking 1000mg of cinnamon with each meal, along with a dietary fiber, acai and gymnema sylvestre. I have noticed a huge difference!! I have also been able to lose 21 lbs so far.. not that its a cure-all, because i have been doing 20 minutes of exercise everyday also..but if its a placebo effect, I dont care! I havent felt this good in years! oh! and you can get a couple different cinnamon capsules at Walmart

March 11, 2009 at 3:18 pm
(28) tartis says:

I purchase my Cinnamon caps with chromium from Walgreens.

April 24, 2009 at 2:48 pm
(29) Jasmine says:

I have type 1 diabetes, i only hear about this cinnamon capsule thing for type 2 diabetics. Is it possible to work for a type 1 diabetic, help lower blood sugars and/or loose weight with a constant diet and exersice?

May 23, 2009 at 9:08 am
(30) gaye pangburn says:

i get herpes simplex outbreaks in my mouth when i take cinnamon capsules or just put it on cereal. is there anything i can do to prevent the outbreaks while still taking cinnamon. gaye

November 24, 2009 at 2:40 pm
(31) Chris M says:

I have been taking cinnamon and honey and ACV for just under 2 weeks I have notiticed a big difference I have lost love handles and I now have a flat tummy not a mummy tummy as before. My skin is clearing and I am very regular. I am thinking clearer and I am keen to see what else I experience as time goes on. Love it!

December 20, 2009 at 10:10 pm
(32) bob says:

what kind of cinnamon for blood pressure?

March 12, 2010 at 11:41 am
(33) Royce Sherrod says:

I KNOW that my sister has improved since taking cinnamon capsules. She has diabetes and has gotten off her medication. The person who wrote in about the doctors not approving the cinnamon, of course, believes the doctors. Doctors push medication and only suggest alternative ways to help your health when you cannot take their meds because of all the side effects. So, why not try something simple when YOU KNOW without a doubt that it has helped you and you are healthier, no matter the studies that doctors do. You know your own body better than they–don’t you?

March 16, 2010 at 1:52 pm
(34) Chuck says:

I would wonder whether a study done in Pakistan would be transferrable to western societies. The diet in Pakistan is generally considerably different from western diets and the daily level of exercise in Pakistan is higher than the U.S. where we lead a highly sedentary life style. While there is anecdotal evidence that cinnamon may help blood sugars and cholesterol, a minimal study in western society indicated no benefit from ingestion of cinnamon. Personally I don’t care if the desired result is attained physiologically or psychologically, results are what count.

March 22, 2010 at 9:16 am
(35) Shailja Pandey says:

Thats very true.Cinnamon can control blood sugar and cholesterol.Apart from cinnamon, there are other anti-diabetic herbs also like bitter melon, pterocarpus marsupium etc.which are very effective in controlling blood sugar.

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